Clive Lones, from Smethwick and later St Mellons in Wales, stands as one of the true pioneers of 500cc racing. At
Born in 1895 in
Fettling the Cat
In 1928, Clive swapped to the JAP engine stable. He was to set 37 World and Class records at Brooklands with a range of engine sizes. However, the Morgan three-wheelers were soon being banned from car races, and were now outclassed in motorcycle races by the dedicated sidecar units. So Clive converted his 1929 Morgan JAP Aero into a 4-wheel machine, by the simple expedient of bolting a GN axle to the back. This car was known as “Tiger Cat”, and from 1936 until the war, was rather handy on the hills.
After the War, Clive was keen to get back in the saddle, and the new 500cc class looked ideal. Though already the wrong side of fifty, he quickly built a new car, which was appropriately christened Tiger Kitten. Clive spent 1946 playing second fiddle to Colin Strang and it was clear that the the new Coopers would be quicker, once they had achieved some reliability, so for 1947 Clive re-developed it Fitted with a rather special JAP motor, based on his extensive experience with the motors, the car was somewhat quicker.
From '47 through to the end of '49, he competed almost exclusively on the hills with this car, sometimes setting FTD and nearly always in the top three. In May 1948, Clive became the first 500 to climb the
Towards the end of 1949, he purchased the first Iota P1 production car. The car, in Clive’s traditional bright red, became known as Tiger Kitten II and Clive gave it a debut at Weston in October. He also moved his business from South Wales to Bournemouth over the winter. He still kept largely to the hills but took in a couple of circuit races during 1950, both at Castle Combe. 1951 continued in a similar vein, predominantly Prescott, where he took 1.37 seconds off his own hill record in September, and Shelsley Walsh but he took in a four circuit races, two at Castle Combe, where Clive won in May and two unsuccessful outings to Silverstone for the Grand Prix and Commander Yorke meetings.
Clive continued with the Iota Tiger Kitten for '52 but focused very much on the circuits. It would prove a frustrating year, A JAP powered Iota, standing little chance against the Cooper Mk VIs and Kiefts with Norton power. Worse still, on his only outing on the hills, he crashed in practice and could not even defend his Prescott record. Clive tried a Kieft at the Grand Prix in July but even this involved a coming together with Alan Rippon and ended in last bar one.
For 1953, Clive finally surrendered to the Cooper onslaught, and purchased purchased Don Truman's Cooper Mk VI which raced as Tiger Kitten III, though still with only JAP power, he struggled to make an impression against the Nortons and often suffered unreliability as a result. It appears that soon after (nearing sixty years of age), he retired from racing, though he did finally manage a finish in the 100 mile Commander Yorke in September 1956 and continued to hillclimb for another thirty or so years.
Some results for Clive: